Christians ought to be mocked far more than we’re hated. That’s my thought this morning.
In Acts 12, the passage that I’m preaching on this Sunday, we see that the gospel always advances hand in glove with opposition. And nothing I’m about to say is meant to diminish our expectation of that persecution. But I still think that Christians as a whole ought to be mocked far more frequently than we’re hated.
It was Romans 3 that set in motion this latest train of thought. Paul begins verse 27 with the rhetorical question, ‘where then is boasting?’ And then he answers with ‘it’s excluded’. There can be no boasting in Christianity. Boasting in ourselves and our own achievements, that is. We can boast in Christ and make much of him. But not of ourselves. And why is that? Well, if 1:18-3:20 has done its work then we’ve been utterly drained of any self-confidence. We’ve got nothing.
The Christian has nothing to boast about. And so we ought to be known for our humility, perhaps even known for being humiliated. We’ve come up before God’s standards and been found wanting. Woefully. The only thing we contributed to our salvation was the sin that made it necessary! God doesn’t accept us into His presence because of what we’ve done but because of what His son, Jesus Christ has done. We’ve nothing to boast about. Think about it for a moment. If I walked to the top of Mount Everest unaided then I’d have every right to talk up my achievement. It would be quite something. But if someone else had carried me up to the top of Mount Everest and I started boasting about my achievements then I’d be an idiot. No, I’d find the whole thing somewhat humiliating. I had to be carried. By someone else. I was utterly incapable of contributing anything to my glorious ascent of Mount Everest other than my weight which burdened the one who carried me. And others who heard about it ought to mock me for it!
Spiritually speaking, that’s me. That’s every Christian. We’re incapable of walking into God’s presence. We needed Jesus Christ to carry us. Let’s be honest, it’s humiliating. I have nothing to boast about.
So why mocked rather than hated? Someone who’s been humiliated is very easy to hold in derision. We secretly mock the men and women who adorn the pages of the tabloids because they’re collective failures are laughable. We hold them in contempt and ridicule them because they’ve been exposed and embarrassed. But we have been humiliated. By the word of God. I’ve been exposed as a complete moral failure. I cannot talk up my own achievements, since I have none. There are things that I’ve said, thought and done of which I’m ashamed. I don’t even come before a holy God with empty hands. I come before him with a bucket load of skeletons in the closet. It’s all rather pathetic. And easy to mock.
But are you and I really mocked? Could it be that we’re not as open about our failure as we should be? Could it be that people think that we’re the hero of our Christian life not Jesus? Could it be that people think we’re rather superior and self-righteously confident in our own religious achievements? Could it be that we’ve hidden from people our utter dependency on our saviour? Could it be that we’ve not made as much or Jesus as we should have done? Do those that know us know that we think we’re wicked and that we think Jesus is wonderful?
At CCB this month we have the ‘Naked God’ mission. Martin Ayers is coming to give two pub talks. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be open about our sin and to make much of our saviour. And we may be mocked for it. But better to be mocked for being morally pathetic than to be hated for being self-righteous.